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First Name: Kenneth

Last Name: Bailey

Birthplace: Pawnee, OK, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Home of Record: Danville, IL
Middle Name: Dillon

Date of Birth: 21 October 1910

Date of Death: 26 September 1942

Rank: Major

Years Served: 1932 - 1935 (National Guard), 1935 - 1942 (Mar
Kenneth Dillon Bailey

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Kenneth Dillon Bailey
Major, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Major Kenneth Dillon Bailey (21 October 1910 - 26 September 1942) was a U.S. Marine Corps officer who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic conduct during action during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. He also earned the Silver Star Medal during the initial landing on Tulagi in the Solomon Islands and the Purple Heart.

Kenneth Dillon Bailey was born in Pawnee, OK, on 21 October 1910. He later moved to Danville, IL, with his parents. He spent three years with the 130th Infantry Regiment, Illinois National Guard, prior to receiving his Second Lieutenant's commission in the Marine Corps on 1 July 1935. He was ordered to the Marine Barracks, Philadelphia, PA, where he completed a course of instruction in the Basic School.

Joining the 5th Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA, he participated in maneuvers in San Diego, CA, and in the Caribbean. In June 1938, he joined the Marine Detachment aboard the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) as Detachment and Battery Officer. He was advanced to First Lieutenant on 19 January 1939 while serving on board Pennsylvania.

A short tour of duty at Quantico as Range Officer with the Rifle Range Detachment preceded his assignment as Assistant to the Training Officer, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island at Parris Island, SC. First Lieutenant Bailey was ordered to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in December 1940 where he joined the 1st Marine Brigade. He later joined the 7th Marine Regiment, then the 1st Marine Regiment, which returned to Parris Island not long after he reported for duty. He was promoted to Captain in March 1941.

At Quantico in June 1941, he joined the 5th Marine Regiment as a company commander. In February 1942, his unit was redesignated the 1st Marine Raider Battalion. The unit was ordered to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego at San Diego, CA, in April 1942, and on 30 April 1942 reached Tutuila, American Samoa.

During the invasion of Tulagi, Solomon Islands, at the beginning of the Guadalcanal Campaign on 7 August 1942, Captain Bailey led a successful assault against a Japanese machine gun nest. Although seriously wounded, he directed the action of his company until forcibly evacuated. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity," he was awarded the Silver Star for his actions on Tulagi. He was promoted to Major on 8 May 1942.

Bailey later moved with his unit to Guadalcanal. As commanding officer of Company C, 1st Marine Raider Battalion, he led his men in repulsing a Japanese attack, which had penetrated American lines during the Battle of Edson's Ridge, 12 to 14 September 1942. Despite a severe head wound, he directed his men for more than 10 hours of fierce hand-to-hand combat. "His great personal valor while exposed to constant and merciless enemy fire, and his indomitable fighting spirit inspired his troops to heights of heroic endeavor which enabled them to repulse the enemy and hold Henderson Field."

Major Bailey was killed in action on 26 September 1942 while heading his men in an attack on the Japanese at the Matanikau River on Guadalcanal. For his actions on Guadalcanal, Major Bailey was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Marine Corps.

Place and date: Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, 12-13 September 1942.

Citation: For extraordinary courage and heroic conduct above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company C, 1st Marine Raider Battalion, during the enemy Japanese attack on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 12-13 September 1942. Completely reorganized following the severe engagement of the night before, Maj. Bailey's company, within an hour after taking its assigned position as reserve battalion between the main line and the coveted airport, was threatened on the right flank by the penetration of the enemy into a gap in the main line. In addition to repulsing this threat, while steadily improving his own desperately held position, he used every weapon at his command to cover the forced withdrawal of the main line before a hammering assault by superior enemy forces. After rendering invaluable service to the battalion commander in stemming the retreat, reorganizing the troops and extending the reverse position to the left, Maj. Bailey, despite a severe head wound, repeatedly led his troops in fierce hand-to-hand combat for a period of 10 hours. His great personal valor while exposed to constant and merciless enemy fire, and his indomitable fighting spirit inspired his troops to heights of heroic endeavor which enabled them to repulse the enemy and hold Henderson Field. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Silver Star Medal
Purple Heart
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
American Defense Service Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal


• The United States Navy destroyer escort USS Kenneth D. Bailey (DE-552) was named for Major Bailey. Her construction was cancelled in 1944.

• In 1945, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Kenneth D. Bailey (DD-713), in commission from 1945 to 1970, was named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Major Kenneth Dillon Bailey was killed in action on 26 September 1942. He was initially buried on Guadalcanal, but his remains were reinterred at Spring Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum in Danville, IL, in June 1948.

Honoree ID: 1274   Created by: MHOH




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